Monday, July 31, 2006

It's not all gloom and doom

Thanks a million for all your comments below; they were extremely helpful (as was the phone call, N.). In addition to all the virtual support, I talked with a woman at the new moms' group about her son's sleep habits -- he's nine weeks old and was born two weeks after his due date. His sleep patterns are very similar to Ess', and that was incredibly reassuring. I think our expectations were a bit too high. And so knowing that this is just the way things are right now, that there probably isn't much we can do except to roll with it in the best humor possible, is actually very helpful.

Yesterday, we took Ess on a little hike at a beautiful state park on the water. It wasn't the longest or most strenuous hike, but we were out on a gorgeous day, and that was good. D and I had a chance to talk about the way things have been going between us -- I've been snappish and impatient, he's been reluctant to do things "wrong" with Ess and so has slowed down on attempting to soothe her when I've got her -- and that was also good. Here he is wearing the Maya Wrap Phantom sent us; he's spent the last several days getting comfortable with it in preparation for his single-dad time on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

And of course on this outing little Ess had the most violent poopy diaper blowout in recent memory. Here she is after an al fresco diaper and wardrobe change.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The walking dead

The sleep, it is not getting better. In fact, it may be getting worse. It's definitely worse. Or at least the cumulative loss of sleep is really getting to me.

I am so tired I can barely function. Ess is no longer compliant when we put her down at night -- last night it took more than an hour to get her to sleep, and then she was up several times in the night to nurse, and at least once she took another half hour or hour to get back to sleep (at a certain point, I can't bear to look at the clock anymore).

I have no business still being awake tonight, but she just went to sleep, and staying up a little after she does at least gives me the illusion that I'm a grownup with a life.

We are at wits' end. We desperately need sleep. Our relationship is suffering, our ability to parent effectively is suffering and our ability to work effectively for pay is in the dumps (great timing, considering I start work again on Wednesday).

I am considering switching to formula in the middle of the night just to get her to go more than a few hours between feedings. I hate to think of this; I am resisting it with all my might. I want her to have breastmilk, and up until now I've been ok with the time commitment that requires. But I am running on empty. And all the promises I hear about the alleged sleep milestones -- that sleep improves when they hit six weeks (which, for her corrected age, is this week) or 12-13 pounds (at her current rate of weight gain, in another month or so) -- seem like mirages in a dusty desert.

My parents are coming for a week-long visit on Tuesday. I am thinking that maybe when they leave they might like to take a chubby-cheeked little screaming person with them.

If y'all have any better ideas for surviving this period, I'd love to hear 'em. (Relevant stats: she weighs 10 pounds and is just about 12 weeks old (6 weeks corrected). She nurses roughly every hour-and-a-half or two hours during the day, sometimes a lot more frequently than that. At night, she'll occasionally give us a four-hour stretch, but it's mostly two- and three-hour chunks. Her naps vary wildly, from 40-minute catnaps to three-hour extravaganzas.)

If you have a horror story about your baby not sleeping until she was 18 months, I feel very sorry for you but please do not tell me about it right now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A delayed review

I have been trying for a couple weeks to write a review of Mostly True, the new memoir by former New York Times food writer Molly O'Neill. The publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy, which was the first book I read after Ess was born. And the review has been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks now; I'll add a sentence here or rewrite a phrase there, but without more than a few minutes at a time to work on it, the piece just isn't getting finished.

Given that I'm returning to work next week, and my already scarce blogging time will grow even scarcer, I'm giving up on the polished, well-thought-out review I'd hoped to write. Here, instead, are a few sentences on why I enjoyed this book, and why you might, too:

Molly O'Neill comes from a wacky family; she's the oldest of six, the other five of whom are boys. And the youngest of whom is retired Yankees star Paul O'Neill. Their parents were eccentric, to say the least -- one of the book's most enduring images for me is Molly's three baths a day as a toddler, complete with a different party dress after each bath. And all this for a kid who just wanted to play in the dirt.

O'Neill's life thus far has happened to coincide with the great explosion in American food -- from the gloppy casseroles she made with Campbell's soup for her brothers to the rarefied cuisine she sampled as the NYT restaurant reviewer. And, of course, her career passes through the brown rice and nuts phase of feminist vegetarianism.

The book is warm and witty and, as O'Neill wrote in a recent piece for Real Simple magazine, exhaustively researched -- a good thing for a memoir in the age of James Frey. Unlike Ruth Reichl's books, which I loved, Mostly True is as much about family as it is about food; therein lies its strengths and its weaknesses. I would've loved a bit more about food and culture, and a bit less about the boys, who become somewhat indistinct as they turn into adults.

That's a minor quibble, though. Mostly True is an engaging look at what its subtitle bills as family, food and baseball. And what better subjects to consider on a summer day?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Things I am not complaining about today, because I am done with the complaining:

~Ess' horrid sleep schedule. (Is it really that horrid? Or do I just really, really like my sleep?)
~Her incredibly sharp nails, which I should be filing right now as she sleeps, instead of blogging and stuff.
~The fact that I am totally freaking out about how I am going to function when I return to work next week. (I am not so much opposed to going back to work as I am concerned about my ability to write a coherent sentence, or think an intelligible thought, when I get there.)
~The dog's whining when Ess cries.
~The other dog's soon-to-resume habit of peeing on the dining room rug.
~The fact that money is so incredibly tight these days, with no end in sight.
~The sweaty, gross nature of one's body when it is 80+ degrees outside, you spend most of the nursing and/or wearing the baby in a sling and you avoid turning on the AC due to the aforementioned finances.

Wah, wah, wah, poor me. I am starting to bore even myself with this whininess. And this on a day when teh Internets offer me a sanctioned whining location! The nerve of me. Perhaps I'll go file Ess' nails so as to avoid the middle of the night cursing that occurs when she grips me with those talons.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The problem with veal and gin

Last night, D took me out for a fantastic dinner at a veddy nice restaurant to celebrate my birthday (yes, the same one we went to last year; the difference this year is that, besides the fact that we did not indulge in anywhere near the amount of alcohol we did last year, our friends H and J kindly stayed home with Miss Ess rather than accompanying us on the splurge-a-thon).

The problem is that we've been sort of paying for that decision ever since then. H and J gave Ess a bottle at 6:30 last night; she chugged three-and-a-half ounces, stayed up to play for a while, and then slept on her little angled foam wedge until about 11:15. She nursed again at 2 or so, and again at 4. It was then that the problems began; Ess had horrible acid reflux, grimacing at each burp and whimpering when she'd spit up. (She's a spitty baby in general, but we'd never seen it cause her pain before.) It was heartbreaking... and really difficult to deal with, given that it was 4 am. D soon began to regret his offer, made when we first woke up (ie, before the reflux started), to get her back to sleep at this feeding. He ended up soothing her by propping her up against his bent knees for nearly two hours, until she finally slept around 6. After she nursed again at 6:45, he took her downstairs and let me sleep until she was hungry again at 8:45.

He still has not slept, and in fact is currently in the kitchen, making goat- and soy-cheese pizzas for me, mostly from scratch. (Yes, he deserves the husband of the year award, rather than the muttered half-sentences and grumbles he's getting from me today.) I got a little sleep in the early, early morning (by putting a pillow over my head), followed by that two hours early in the day, followed by a 45 minute nap with Ess on my chest as D watched the British Open. It is a measure of my extreme fatigue that I actually found golf to be interesting and worth paying attention to when I wasn't either nursing Ess or trying every trick in the book to get her to sleep.

Because that's the other problem; all day today, she has taken short little naps -- dozens of them, it feels like -- and woken up angry almost every time. This is a big difference from her typical pattern of nursing, playing contentedly for a while, then sleeping for a couple hours after she's been awake for an hour or two. We've gone, in one short day, from using the pacifier strictly at bedtime to popping it in her mouth at just about every little cry, since today there is no little cry that does not turn into a big old screechfest that makes the dog whine and cower between my feet while I curse under my breath. We've given up on putting her to sleep in the pack & play we keep in the spare bedroom just off the living room, since getting up every time she cries is more than our overtired bodies can handle. So right now she is sleeping next to me on the couch, swaddled and binkied... for a little while, anyway.

My hope is that this lousy day -- which probably would seem a lot less dire had it not begun at 4 am -- is just a consequence of the very rich meal I ate last night. There probably was a little dairy in it; I'm sure there was butter, which hasn't seemed to bother her before, but I think there was also some cream hidden in my delicious tortured-baby-cow appetizer. Or maybe she's objecting to the 2/3 of a gin and tonic I drank. Whatever it is, it's Not Fun.

And I know that is a simple fact of life with an infant. But that knowledge doesn't do much to make it easier as we're experiencing it. I've spent much of today trying to figure out what is causing this -- whether it was my diet yesterday, or the much-heralded four- or five-week developmental leap, a distinct possibility since her corrected age is 4.5 weeks and she's showing a bunch of the advances described for this period (including, thank jebus, smiling!! at long last!!) in The Wonder Weeks.

That tendency, to want to know why Ess is acting this way, and when I have a plausible explanation, to act much more charitably toward her and D, concerns me. There is not always going to be a why, especially in these early months. So I have to get over my need to understand what's happening and kick up my skillz at simply responding to whatever is happening using the best resources I have at my disposal. Sometimes, understanding cause and effect will make my responses better. Other times, futzing around and trying to use my big monkey brain to explain things that are inexplicable is just going to cause a cranky baby and a frustrated mom.

Ess has spit the binky out about eight times in the last 90 seconds, so my time for deep thoughts has ended anyway.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Three cheers for the fuzzy socks

Last night's waking times, after an 8:45 bedtime: Midnight, 3, 6 and 7:30.


I never thought I'd see the day when 2.5 hours of sleep at a time made me feel so good.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The idiocy of new parenthood

We've been having problems with Ess' sleep in the second half of the night. So far, she goes to bed pretty easily, around 7 or 8, and sleeps for three to four-and-a-half hours pretty reliably. Then we'll usually get another 2.5 or 3-hour chunk out of her, then it all goes to hell. And when I say "hell," I mean waking up every 90 minutes, and fussing in her sleep between feedings such that her beloved food source, aka me, can not sleep much at all. And getting up for the day somewhere in the six o'clock hour, which makes the aforementioned food source truly miserable.

But, lo, this morning was different. I woke from a sound sleep at 8:15 to find Ess cuddled next to me, sweetly, silently asleep. I doublechecked to make sure she was breathing. I ran to the bathroom. I stared at her for a while in disbelief. And eventually I turned off the air conditioner and opened the shades, and she gently roused from sleep.

The big difference? Socks and a hat.

Genius parents that we are, it never occurred to us that she was cold. We've been running the AC every night (and I just received the electric bill to prove it) and putting her to bed wearing a onesie, then swaddled. We thought that was enough, but apparently it wasn't. So all that early-morning waking and grunting and grumbling was most likely little Ess' attempt to ask for more clothing. The true test will be tonight, when we repeat this brilliant maneuver of dressing her more warmly, and see what happens. Boy will I feel like a moron if the solution to our sleep problems -- which, I know, will morph and change and mutate into entirely new horrors as she grows -- turned out to be a pair of pink socks and a stocking cap.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A shirt tale

After all your nice comments on the picture of my grandparents (now deleted), I feel a little guilty writing about the awkwardness I experienced with my grandfather. But what the hell, that's what blogs are for, right?

So here's the thing. My grandfather is a fantastic man in many respects, but when it comes to the appearance of the women in his family, he is somewhat of a neanderthal. And this trait revealed itself rather strongly over the weekend.

Since I'm breastfeeding, I've gone up two cup sizes, from a B to a D (or thereabouts). And for the sake of convenience in the car last week, I wore one of those crappy nursing tanks from Motherhood; while they're handy for nursing in public, the straps are made of stretchy cotton, which means that after a few hours the neck line is practically down at your knees. I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt unbuttoned over the tank, but the tank -- and my new cleavage -- was clearly visible underneath.

So we all go to my grandparents' house for dinner Thursday night. I'm (as usual) tired and a little more overwhelmed than usual. We walk into the backyard, where my grandparents are sitting. My grandfather jumps up, kisses me and then takes a good look at my chest. I can't remember his exact words, but they were something to the effect of "my how you've grown." And he wouldn't let it rest. Every time I saw him -- and I saw him every day we were there -- he had something to say about my appearance, whether it was the fact that he thinks I have great legs (wtf?) or that having Ess has made me look "like a young chick again." (That one, said multiple times, is verbatim -- how frequently, after all, do you hear your 91-year-old grandfather refer to you as a "chick"?)

In reading this over, it sounds rather innocuous. But it hearkens back to the comments he made when I was younger, and much more vulnerable about my appearance. (Who am I kidding? Has that vulnerability decreased at all with age??) Back in adolescence, if I had a zit, he would mention it. If I was wearing a skirt, he had something to say about it -- something generally approving, but with just a hint of leering to go along with his remark. And if we were at the home of a relative with a pool, and had the guts to wear a bathing suit, he'd comment on that, too. It wasn't just me -- he made comments about my mom, my sister and my aunts (his daughters-in-law) as well. At one point it got sketchy enough that my dad had to talk to him about it. It all made me extremely uncomfortable, especially because when confronted he'd insist that he meant no harm, that he was genuinely expressing his admiration in what he thought were complimentary terms. (Just to be clear, he has never done anything even in the same universe as inappropriate touching.)

So I knew all of this last week when I chose to go to his house in that stupid saggy tank. I thought about changing my shirt, but it felt like capitulating to his slightly icky approach to women's bodies. So I wore the tank top, and heard his comments, and chose not to say anything. I nursed Ess in front of him -- thus far the only time I've felt compelled to use a blanket when nursing -- and dealt with what, again, he thought was approval ("I think it's wonderful that you're feeding your baby," said in a booming voice that carries across three towns). So from my actions, you'd think I was fine with all this.

And yet here I am wasting tons of (virtual) ink on the topic, with no clear conclusion in mind, just an assortment of thoughts about the conflict I feel when it comes to the value and/or utility of discussing any of this with a 91-year-old man with some hearing problems and a tendency toward willful obtuseness. I guess I wish I'd said something, although what I'm not sure. Even more, I wish he didn't feel the need to evaluate his female relatives on the basis of their appearance. I wish I didn't have to think so hard about what I'm wearing when visiting my grandparents. And I hope that young Ess grows up with more confidence about her body -- something I'm aware absolutely starts with me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I can't resist...

... So, for a limited time only, this photo of Ess and me with my grandparents. And now it's gone.

In one piece, but bleary-eyed

That describes my state today, as I sit on my couch in my own house in Maine. We made it back from NJ in a little under seven hours today -- a victory in July no matter who's doing the traveling, but a major moment of triumph when one of the passengers is a nine-week-old girl whose sleep habits put those of clubgoers and night watchmen to shame.

So, yes, Ess turns out to be great in the car. We stopped just twice in the 400 miles today, once at the top of the Garden State Parkway and once on the Mass Pike. Otherwise, she snoozed.

As for the visit, I'm glad we went -- it was something else to see my 86- and 91-year-old grandparents absolutely besotted with my little girl. But boy am I tired. I never would have thought that being at my parents' house, with my mom and my sister to help wrangle Ess, and my dad to make 400 trips to the grocery store, would be more stressful than being at home.

But it was. After a good night of sleep the first night, Ess completely fell apart in the evenings. She's still doing well at that first chunk, going down at 7 or 8 for anywhere from 3 to 4.5 hours. Then there is a two-hour chunk, and then she's up again every 90 minutes for the rest of the night. Every morning I felt like I'd been beat up. And my mom is an early riser, which I thought boded well for early-morning help for me. But most days she was off at church, or out running errands, when I dragged myself and Ess out of bed. And without a bouncy seat, there was no showering for me until she or my sister was available to hold the cranky baby. And that led to a very cranky mc.

As the days wore on, I did learn to be a bit better about asking for help, and about letting my mom, in particular, keep holding Ess when she began to cry, rather than snatching her back at her first peep of dismay. But I missed D, and his fabulous instincts with Ess, tremendously. (Not to mention my bed and all the little baby accoutrements we've gathered.)

The funny thing is that I didn't think Ess and I had a routine at all until it was disrupted. One sign she felt the dislocation, too: She pooped just before we left Thursday morning, and again as soon as we arrived at my parents' that afternoon. And then not again until today -- literally moments after we got home. So soon, in fact, that she was still in her carseat; my sister was sitting with her while I went to the bathroom myself. I am so thankful I didn't have to change that diaper in the family restroom at the Charlton plaza...

Despite the tough moments -- and I did at one point hand Ess to my sister, and run to my bedroom in tears; my sweet father found me there and consoled me -- it was really nice to see family and friends, especially everyone who gathered in my parents' flower-filled backyard on Saturday to meet Ess. Ess was introduced to several of her great aunts and uncles, as well as some of my closest friends, including surprise guests R&R, who drove up from Washington, DC just for the party. That totally made my day.

Other highlights, all along a certain theme:
~The massage I got on Friday afternoon, as a birthday present from my mom.
~The pizzas with soy cheese we ordered for my birthday dinner last night.
~The cherry pie (shortening crust) and soy ice cream we had for dessert... and two pieces of pie made it back in the cooler today.
~The bag full of spa goodies my sister gave me for my birthday.

I need to take advantage of Ess' nap right now to catch up on some other stuff, but I want to remember to write in the next few days about my experiences with my grandfather and his vaguely inappropriate remarks, as well as my conflict about the friend who I didn't end up seeing on this trip.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A note from the road

Ok, so we're done with the driving, but I couldn't think of a better title than that.

The trip went extremely well yesterday -- we stopped just three times, one of them to visit a friend in north Jersey. And a drive that normally takes 6.5 hours took us only 8 with Ess, including a 45-minute stop with friend.

And now she wakes from her nap, so I must go. Crossing fingers for a repeat performance on the return trip Monday...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I am such a cliche

Just a few moments ago, I walked back to my Prius, carrying my groceries -- which, yes, included some organic fruits and vegetables -- in a cloth bag, while wearing my barefoot baby in a sling. Yikes.

On the other hand, the baby is wearing disposable diapers.

And the cloth bag? Also contains Oreos*.

So perhaps the jury is still out on how well I fit the crunchy stereotype. At least I wasn't listening to Phish**...

*They're nondairy, doncha know, albeit with lots of artificial yuckiness. But in my world, you're always allowed one bad-for-you snack on a long car trip.

**Are they even the granola band of choice anymore? Should I have said Dave Matthews Band? Or someone more obscure? See, this proves I've not completely gone over to crunchitude.

Hitting the road

Well, tomorrow we leave for the big adventure: my sister, me and a nine-week-old baby, driving 400 miles to the ancestral family home, if by "ancestral" you mean "the house my parents bought when I was in college." I'm hopeful that Ess will cooperate; she typically loves her carseat, although being happy in it for ~7 hours (best-case scenario) is a lot to ask of any little one. So we're packing lots of food for us (and, since my boobs are coming along, lots for her, too) and planning to just take it as it comes.

Astonishingly, I've already got laundry done and lists made -- one for the grocery store, if Ess ever wakes up from her nap, and one of stuff I need to remember to bring. I think the actual packing will have to wait until D comes home, or until I can get Ess comfortable in her sling later this afternoon. (We went out for a nice walk early this morning -- and by early I mean 9 am -- and she totally conked out in the sling. Woke up to nurse briefly at our friends' house, then conked out again long enough for me to both stop at the variety store for some vitamin water (my new vice, since ice cream is out) and at the bakery for a decaf iced coffee (soymilk added at home).)

We're hoping to leave by 8 tomorrow morning... I hope we can do it. And that the traveling goes smoothly. What scares me is that she had a FANTASTIC night of sleep last night, and is sleeping deeply right now... which means that in all likelihood, tonight will not be great. The plan is for me to take the first driving shift, since Ess will likely be absolutely fine in the car for a couple hours. Then, as meltdowns near, we will stop at some of New England's fine rest stops, my sister will take over the driving, and I will probably at some point attempt to nurse Ess in her carseat in a moving vehicle. I'm a little unclear on the geometry involved, but I think it will work if it comes to that.

Despite the uncertainty of the traveling, though, I'm really looking forward to being in New Jersey. The main attraction is introducing Ess to her great-grandparents, something I absolutely can not wait to see. And then my parents are throwing a cookout on Saturday where Ess will meet her great aunts and uncles on my dad's side, as well as one of her great aunts on my mom's side. And there will be lots of friends there, too. (D had to miss this trip because he couldn't get the three days off from work, since his part-time paternity leave starts in a few weeks. Which means I go back to work in a few weeks. Which is the subject for another post entirely.)

On top of all the family stuff, we'll also celebrate my 34th birthday on Sunday (wtf? How the hell am I no longer 22?). My mom is treating me to either a massage or a pedicure on Friday, while she watches Ess. Sounds blissful to me.

I'll try to post when I'm down there, given all the other people who'll want to hold little Ess, but I'm not sure that will happen. If not, I'll be back here on Monday night.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

43 bibs

Yesterday, Ess was tired but couldn't get herself to sleep. So I bundled her up in the giant wrap, so she was in her favorite position -- upright, leaning on my chest -- and walked up to the dead end and back. When I got back to the house a few minutes later, there was a giant package in the middle of our living room. I was a little surprised by that, but not overly so; we leave our doors unlocked during the day, and it's not unusual for someone to stop by and drop something off for Ess these days. Usually they leave it on the porch, but whatever.

What was really surprising was the contents of the box: in addition to the dozens of bibs, there were a half-dozen outfits, more than 20 washcloths, about 10 burp cloths, a beautiful teddy bear and an assortment of receiving blankets, toys and other baby accoutrements -- every bit of it pinker than pink. The whole to-do was from the parents of D's best friend, and it was more than a little overwhelming. (To put matters in perspective: This is far more stuff than either my parents or D's bought for Ess.)

What makes this more than just an act of incredible generosity is what we know the backstory: D's BF and his wife have one son, and another little boy on the way. The BF's mother was outraged when she heard they were having a boy; she wanted a girl, and told them there were "things [they] could have done" in order to ensure it. She literally didn't speak to them for a few weeks following the announcement of each child's gender. Needless to say, this caused much anger and heartache and family drama.

And now we are the recipients of 43 pink bibs. I do not even know what to say about this. Obviously, we will write a gracious thank-you note that does not mention the completely bizarre nature of the gift, nor what seems to be the obvious fact that most of these bibs, and everything else, were meant for the granddaughter who is not to be. Given the situation, I will let D figure out what to tell his BF -- whether he just mentions that "your parents dropped a really nice gift off, and we really appreciate it," or whether he tells the whole truth. I will cull out a few of the bibs and some of the other stuff to keep, and bring the rest to New Jersey with me, so my mom can take it to the prenatal section of the clinic where she works.

And then we will all spend some time marveling at the bizarre thing that is human nature.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two months old

Dear Ess,

Today you are, astonishingly, two months old. You're well over eight pounds, and you're much more like a little person than the tiny baby you were not so long ago. Just last night, as you were nursing in just a diaper after your bath, your dad and I were marveling at how solid your little body has gotten. It's hard to believe you are the same teensy girl we snuggled inside our shirts back in the hospital.

This month has been all about growth -- for you, and for us. You have gotten so much stronger; you are nursing entirely without the nipple shield these days -- a major accomplishment, if you ask me. And now, when you push off from us with your legs, it's hard to pull you back in. You've gained about two-and-a-half pounds this month, and you've become noticeably interested in the outside world. In fact, nothing makes you happier when you are screaming than walking outside or onto the front porch; whether it's the fresh air or the light or both, you really enjoy the outdoors. You also have recently begun to delight in staring at Zeke, the monkey who lives on your changing table, and who stars with you in your monthly portrait.

And that leads us to perhaps this month's most exciting development: your happy noise. It's not really a giggle, more of a burble combined with a screech. Sometimes you make it when you're looking at Zeke, or when we're singing and tickling your belly. There's another version, more on the screechy side, that you do when you're getting mad, but the happy noise just makes us melt.

You've also gotten much better at going to bed. You actually have a bedtime now (sometime between 7:30 and 9); after you nurse and we swaddle you just about as tightly as we can, we nestle you in the co-sleeper, pop the binky in your mouth and wait. Within a few moments, you've spit out the binky, your eyes have closed and you are sweetly, peacefully asleep. Then we turn on the monitor, run downstairs and do all kinds of crazy stuff... like cleaning the kitchen, or just sitting quietly on the couch. Sometimes you go as long as four hours without needing to nurse again -- an occurrence that gives us hope that, someday, we will get a good night's sleep again.

And speaking of us, our growth has come in the form of increasing confidence about you, your needs, and our ability to figure them out. (Sometimes that confidence has unintended consequences, such as the injury you sustained on your thumb when your mom tried clipping your fingernails for the first time. Sorry!) We've also gotten much bolder about venturing out with you. This month you've gone to the beach; out for pizza; to numerous gatherings for new moms; to the lobster pound and the Gap; to several friends' houses for dinner... yes, slowly, our little family is emerging into the world again. The biggest milestone for your parents this month? Just a few days ago, we left you in the capable hands of your Maine grandparents and went out to dinner. We managed to talk of subjects other than you for a while, which was nice. But it was even nicer to walk through the door and hold you -- even the red-faced, squalling incarnation of you -- in our arms again.

We love you, peanut.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


This morning, our TV died, just as my friend N and her two-year-old daughter, visiting from the Small State to our south, were watching the Big Red Obsession. No warning, no fuzzing or blurring or other signs of age. One minute a big red dog, the next absolutely frickin' nothing. Luckily, R took it in stride. (Or so I heard. I was still in bed when this occurred, grabbing another hour of sleep while Ess snoozed on top of me.)

Even more luckily, we have another, significantly newer, TV in our bedroom (before you tsk, let me say that it was intentionally not hooked up to cable, so we only used it occasionally for movies). It's going pretty much unused these days, since we put Ess to bed in the co-sleeper at eight or so, then leave the room dark and quiet until we come to bed a few hours later. So the new TV is now in the living room. Being of recent vintage, it is much smaller and sleeker than our 15-year-old behemoth. Combined with the recent removal of the coffeetable so we'd have some more room to play with Ess on the floor, the living room looks gigantic.

The only drawback? We can't figure out how to make the DVD player and the TV talk to each other. (We have a complicated surround sound-system that is also a few years old... enough so the DVD player has outputs for which the TV does not have inputs.) Luckily, this will not interfere with my daily TLC time. But it does put a halt to our viewing of the current season of the Sopranos, on somewhat illicit DVDs, and to D's movie-watching. I suspect the problem is solveable by someone with a bit more savoir faire when it comes to electronics... but at the moment I can't work up the energy to call my dad or my brother-in-law and describe the problem. The energy to complain about it, though? That I have.

Friday, July 07, 2006

One day, two milestones

This morning, my sister and I took Ess to the beach for her first day of sunbathing. Well, without the sunbathing part. She sat in her carseat in the swanky new beach cabana we bought (works great, except that the strap on the formerly-handy carrying case broke immediately) while we sunned. Then she woke, I moved my beach chair into the cabana and nursed her. And changed a verrrry poopy diaper. And nursed her some more. Somewhere in there I managed to read the front section of the most recent New Yorker, keeping up with which is a sure sign that life has not gotten me too down. And then we decided to go, and put her back in her seat, and she screamed bloody murder while we took the cabana down and shook sand out of every blessed thing we brought with us. Got some nice looks from other beachgoers. And then she spit up all over herself -- twice -- in the car on the 0.25-mile ride home.

And, yes, D and I are going again tomorrow. Seriously. If she can do this well at the beach at eight weeks, imagine when she's two... I can't wait until we join the hordes of families building sandcastles and making endless trips to the water. But for now, reading a bit of the New Yorker while she dozes on my lap in her onesie is good enough.

For our most recent trick, D and I went out to dinner. Without the baby. I wore clothes that had not been spit up upon, and we talked of subjects other than how insanely cute she is, and how much she's growing, and how much we love her. I did admit at at one point to feeling like the new-mom cliche -- desperately wanting to get out of the house without her, then fairly quickly wanting to get back to her -- but that's ok. After dinner here, we took a quick walk up the street to peek in the window of another new restaurant, run by the former proprietors of a favorite place of ours, and then headed home.

D's parents had, of course, done a fantastic job with their little charge. Ess had a little bottle of thawed breastmilk while we were gone, then nursed contentedly for quite a while as soon as we walked in the door. Bonus: There is another small bottle in the fridge, which will be good until late morning tomorrow. The plan is for D to get up with her when she wakes up in the 5-6 am window, and bring her downstairs to give her the bottle while I catch another hour or two of sleep. Should the plan come remotely close to working, I will be in heaven.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Drawing blood

A great moment in parenting (first of many): Yesterday I decided to attempt clipping Ess' nails. You know where this is headed, right? She was asleep in her carseat. I sat on the floor in the kitchen and got through one hand pretty quickly. She started to wake up, but I decided to forge ahead and try to do the other hand. Big mistake, right? I got her index finger done, then tried to rush through the thumb.

And, indeed, I clipped right through poor Ess' thumb. Took out a little chunk of skin, and without being too maudlin, a little bit of my heart as well. She bled, she cried, I cried... it was awful. Thankfully, D was there to comfort both of us. So Ess had her first bandaids, and I had my first major attack of maternal guilt.

All is well now, though. She's snoozing in her bassinet and we are whiling away our cloudy, cool Fourth of July together, waiting for D to get home from work. Later on, the three of us will head to a friend's house for a little barbecue. Fireworks are unlikely, given the forecast.

Other highlights of the last few days: My parents left yesterday morning, leaving me glum and sad. It didn't help that Rocky had thrown up on the bed that morning... nor that she did so again today. Yesterday we washed the duvet cover. Now I've got the sheets and the mattress pad in the wash. Ugh.

The good news is that my sister and I are taking Ess to New Jersey to visit my parents -- and introduce her to my grandparents! -- a week from Thursday. So I should be able to buck up and carry on before too long. (Incidentally, anyone who has tips on long car trips with an infant, please comment away! We're already planning to bring some thawed bottles of breastmilk with us, so Ess doesn't have to nurse every time she's hungry on the ride down. Other ideas are welcome.)

Hope you all are having a good Fourth.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My new life

After Ess was born, I kept waiting for everything to change. It's some kind of universal truth that having kids changes your life completely, right? So I kept waiting to wake up one morning and, Gregor Samsa-like, find myself a completely different creature (though, I hoped, not a cockroach).

Instead, I still fritter away time on teh Internets, reading blogs when I should be writing on my own, or doing dishes, or talking to D. I still love to cook, love to gossip, love to make connections between friends. I'm still snarky and opinionated and overly responsible. It's just that now all that revolves around Ess.

I don't know what, exactly, I thought would happen -- that I'd suddenly be the recipient of the Secret Book of Maternal Wisdom, or that I would have a newfound patience for things -- even sweet little eight-pound darlings -- that get in the way of my getting things done.

True, some things are vastly different now. While my days are full, I can't exactly say they're busy. I watch a lot more daytime TV than I ever dreamed possible (haven't drifted to the soaps yet, but the TV does stay permanently tuned to TLC). And, as the mom of a friend wrote in a touching card to us, when someone asks how I'm doing, the answer depends on how Ess is that day.

I'm not sure I'm saying anything here that the rest of you parents don't already know. But in this rare moment of solitude, while D and Ess sit in the yard with the pooches, he working on the crossword, she sleeping in her carseat, I wanted to get down in words something about the imperceptible ways in which nothing has changed, and so much has. How I long for a few hours without Ess attached to my breast, yet am thrilled to see her chubby little cheeks when I wake up in the morning (and, less cheerfully, every three hours prior to morning). How my exhaustion last night tempted me to smack her little hands as they flailed in my face while she slept, and yet I can talk of little other than her poop, or her little burbles of pleasure, or the trials and tribulations of our breastfeeding adventure.

This is yet another post without a real ending. I'd like to blame that on my lack of sleep and general fuzzy headed-ness, but the truth is that I've never been good at conclusions.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A good night, followed by a good day

I've posted about our tough sleep nights, so I thought I'd write about a good one, even though I know I risk bringing the wrath of the sleep gods upon us by talking about it:

Last night, Ess nursed at 8 pm, then slept till midnight(!). She was up again at 3 and 6. And rather than being in our bed, she was in the co-sleeper, on her little launch pad, until 3. She was also swaddled very tightly, following the diagram in Happiest Baby on the Block.

Normally, she'd like to get up at six -- she gazes at the windows, all wide-eyed and alert, ready to start the day no matter what her groggy parents think. But I nursed her and laid her on my chest, coaxing her back to sleep until 8:30.

Today, she has taken two gigantic naps, one that ended at 11:30 and another one that is still ongoing. Part of me wonders if this is the sleep-begets-sleep effect; earlier, I'd been waking her up from naps after about two hours, to make sure that she got enough to eat during the day to sleep longer at night (and see how well that worked??). But now that we are mostly free of the nipple shield, I think she's getting more milk at each feeding and have been experimenting with just letting her sleep until she wakes up. It's no accident that this experiment is taking place when there are plenty of arms around for holding her during the day should it go drastically wrong...

The funny thing? I have no idea what to do with myself with all this free time, which I'm sure won't last for long. This morning, I worked on an academic paper I'm editing -- I have a small sideline in copyediting/proofreading for the profs in the business department at the local college -- and this afternoon I slept. And then I slept some more. And slept. When I finally woke up, I balanced our checkbooks -- end result: surprisingly not as bad as I thought in the household account, but grim in my personal account -- and then surfed some blogs. And here I am now, with breasts full to bursting and a complete lack of ideas about what to do. Although I suppose I could put away the clothes in Ess' laundry basket. Or lay (lie? I can never remember that one...) on the couch with Rocky some more.

Hope you all are enjoying what is a beautiful day here in the northeast. And cross your fingers that this little trend continues, at least for another day or two!